RaveForeword ReviewsAt first, Johanna seems like an ordinary woman with reasonable questions about the family who tried to mold her in their image, and who then rejected her for rejecting them. Over time, her preoccupation with her estranged family grows, driving her to extreme, invasive measures. Her obsession propels the story toward its tense conclusion ... Is Mother Dead is a Norwegian domestic thriller about the lengths to which people will go to dig up truths that others want to stay buried.
Lisa Russ Spaar
PositiveForeword Reviews... a poetic saga in which a woman’s life affects, and is affected by, mental illness, loss, and love.
Amanda Svensson, trans. by Nichola Smalley
PositiveForeword ReviewsA System So Magnificent It Is Blinding is a dynamic novel about methods of coping in a world where nothing is certain.
Brenda Lozano, trans. by Heather Cleary
PositiveForeword ReviewRegardless of public scorn and physical danger, Feliciana and Paloma defy gender norms to tread the paths they know to be right for them. They are both bound by their devotion to their crafts, and by how their unique—and, as Feliciana believes, God-given—talents help others. Their connections make their stories so powerful ... a glorious novel about gender-nonconforming people who brave a hostile world to be themselves.
PositiveForeword ReviewsThe book focuses most on white and Black women, with nods to Latinx, Asian, Indigenous, and queer women, too. It spotlights a long list of prominent, groundbreaking, and morally complex women ... The women’s movement is a flawed, complex entity that will continue to boost American women far into the future, argues Formidable, an overview of the diversity of American women and their role in political history.
PositiveForeword ReviewsMembers of a Tahitian family cannot escape one another in Titaua Peu’s novel Pina...Nine-year-old Pina’s life, already darkened by abuse and poverty, becomes even harsher when an accident turns her drunken father Auguste into a dangerous religious zealot...Pina, her mother, and her siblings seek refuge wherever they can: with loved ones, with lovers, and with drugs...But as Auguste’s behavior grows more unhinged, it becomes clear that only a drastic, tragic action can break the cycle of violence...Colonialism and its trappings—including colorism, lacks of opportunity, and oppression—play roles in creating and exacerbating the addiction, violence, and mental illness that plagues the family...Pina is a dark family saga about the effects of colonialism on one family and the nation they live in.
RaveForeword Reviews... a heartfelt collection about the highs, lows, and ordinary days of Ethiopian life.
PositiveForeword ReviewsThe prose is as changeable as the ocean: fluid most of the time, choppy and fragmented during intense moments. Each narrator contributes a unique perspective, their voices weaving together to form a coherent, devastating tale. A frightening climax forces all of the characters to reckon with the consequences of their actions—and gives them the chance at redemption that they long for.
John Elizabeth Stintzi
RaveForeword ReviewsIncisive and painful ... The nonlinear narrative moves back and forward and back again, showing how the characters’ stories could have ended before \'resetting\' to explore other outcomes. Each episode stresses the interconnected nature of all: whether an individual likes it or not, their lives and actions affect not only themselves, but their friends, their neighbors, and their planet. The suggestion is sobering: while the world in My Volcano may proffer second chances, the real world does not ... My Volcano is a captivating novel about the consequences of letting obvious dangers fester and grow.
C. A. Davids
PositiveForeword ReviewsDespite the extreme situations the characters end up in, the self-doubt, fear, and hypocrisy they wrestle with are familiar to anyone who has ever devoted themselves to a cause—and the clear-eyed determination that each discovers by story’s end is to be envied ... How to Be a Revolutionary is a novel about the costs of remembering the past and the far more dire consequences of forgetting it.
Shahriar Mandanipour, Tr. Sara Khalili
RaveForeword ReviewsEach story is told with an intimacy that makes every loss and tragedy feel closer, more real. Occasional dips into speculative fiction enhance the sense that the characters are dominated by unseen forces far larger and more powerful than they are. They are forever shackled to the past, as helpless and as hopeless as the dead. Seasons of Purgatory is a stunning collection of stories about Iran’s traditions, its violent recent history, and how the memory of both influences daily life.
RaveForeword ReviewsGripping, sometimes disturbing tales ... Whether outlandish or just odd, each story is a quiet, unforgettable revolution ... Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century is a breathtaking collection of speculative fiction stories about how new places and innovations affect timeless emotions.
Paulo Scott, tr. Daniel Hahn
RaveForeword ReviewsFederico grows up in the 1970s and 1980s. His hometown, Porto Alegre—its food, its popular spots—is rendered in bright, distinctive details, so that, despite the story’s universal themes of race and acceptance, Phenotypes could not have taken place anywhere else ... The army evaluation scene is especially horrific, but the most crushing demonstrations of racism are the quiet wounds that Federico himself accidentally inflicts. It is a stinging reminder that even the most well-meaning people must reckon with notions of race and prejudice ... Phenotypes is a complex, stream-of-consciousness novel about race, culture, and deciding for oneself where one belongs.
Elisa Shua Dusapin, tr. Aneesa Abbas Higgins
PositiveForeword... a spare novel about existence in the between spaces of identity and passion.
PositiveForeword... a poignant novel about the power memory has to harm and to heal.
Carl de Souza trans. by Jeffrey Zuckerman
PositiveForeword ReviewsIn Carl de Souza’s novel Kaya Days, a simple errand leads a teenager into a days-long odyssey. ... Kaya Days is a frantic, stream-of-consciousness novel in which a teenager comes of age in the middle of violent upheaval.
RaveForeword ReviewsCaptivating ... Most of the stories feature independent-minded women who either have magic of their own or know someone who does. Their determination often serves them well…but not always. Along the way, they learn about self-acceptance, lost love, or new opportunities. Not all of the lessons are happy ones, and some come too late to do lead characters any good. All of the stories have something important to say, and they say it in the most enthralling, devastating, and uplifting ways ... Featuring imaginative scenarios infused with Malaysian folklore.
Kyle Lucia Wu
PositiveForeword ReviewsWilla is a compelling but unreliable narrator: there is much more to Bijou’s family than she is ever aware of. Her desire to belong—such a human instinct—makes her relatable, as do her occasional, mild indiscretions, such as sneaking into her boss’s room to try on make-up. She spends so long wondering why she doesn’t fit in that she never thinks about how her own actions might contribute to her present situation. That realization, as late as it comes, may allow her to find a place for herself at last ... a wistful novel about how much effort it can take to find and settle into your place in the world.
PositiveForewordThe narrative is interspersed with established facts about the protests and Ukrainian history, as well as with poems about past atrocities and lists of victims who died in the war at its center. This contextual work puts the characters’ troubles in perspective—not by diminishing their pain, but by allowing them to be part of a tragic but proud national heritage. The novel shows that Ukraine and its people have suffered at the hands of a bevy of invaders; its leads are the latest in a long line of people who loved, lost, evolved, and endured there ... a love letter to Ukraine, its people, and its ability to rise up from piled catastrophes.
Joy Sorman tr. Lara Vergnaud
PositiveForeword ReviewsDespite the fantastical framing, the story of Ninon and her \'cursed\' ancestors is all too grounded. It’s an often dark tale about women who struggle with health issues that the medical establishment cannot—or does not want to—cure, or even identify. But stories can be changed, and Ninon might just be the woman to do it ... an immersive, harrowing novel about the power of stories to turn a captivating fable into a prophecy.
RaveForeword ReviewsOften fun and sarcastic, the book adopts a more serious tone when acknowledging the effects of colonialism around the globe. The tragedies of the Congo Free State and the Quilombo of Palmares are sobering reminders of the human toll of conquest. The would-be nation builders in this book are greedy and entitled—and, just sometimes, so absurd that they become darkly humorous ... Both educational and entertaining, An Atlas of Extinct Countries is an irreverent look at the history of defunct nations and the larger-than-life personalities behind them.
Mohamed Kheir tr. Robin Moger
PositiveForeword Reviews... haunting ... Each lyrical vignette conceals as much as it reveals. Then, one by one, the threads are woven together into a tapestry of grief and indifferenc ... Kheir’s masterful storytelling not only encourages, but almost necessitates, rereading. Seif’s journey takes him around Egypt, but his sorrows are not so easy to leave behind. He keeps his innermost thoughts to himself, hiding his weaknesses. And yet, even if Seif were to share his troubles, those around him prove just as vulnerable as he. The closer he gets to the truth of things, the more it becomes apparent that there is no truth, and that there is no one to prevent him from slipping further into unreality.
PositiveForeword ReviewsNichols provides bleak but thought-provoking analysis ... a blistering critique of twenty-first-century American politics.
RaveForeward ReviewsA mysterious death brings chaos and clarity in Priyanka Champaneri’s novel ... Lush prose evokes the thick, close atmosphere of Kashi and the intricate religious practices upon which life and death depend. Rumor and superstition hold sway over even the most level-headed people, twisting what’s explainable into something extraordinary—with tragic consequences. The resolution is like a sigh of relief after the previous intensity, promising new starts and peaceful futures. The City of Good Death is a breathtaking, unforgettable novel about how remembering the past is just as important as moving on.
RaveForeward Reviews... explores recent Russian history through the perspectives of its central characters, who embody the worst of the Soviet Union’s obsessions and excesses. Kalitin and Shershnev are ruthless, self-absorbed men who never once question the rightness or wrongness of their actions. Their singleminded focus prevents them from realizing what they really are: relics of a faded empire whose carefully cultivated lack of morals will prove to be their undoing. This makes the narrative intense from start to finish ... Smooth prose is used to explore their psyches, proving far more insightful than the characters themselves are. Their histories breed paranoia; pressure mounts as small details go awry during these, their most important of missions ... Intelligent and stunning, Untraceable is a character-driven thriller about the price of control.
E. Lily Yu
RaveForeword ReviewsDevastating descriptions breathe life into Nauru and its unwilling inhabitants ... Loss after loss piles on the family’s doorstep, pushing it to the breaking point. The final chapter includes enough hope to turn tears of despair into tears of happiness, its developments a relief and a blessing ... a masterful and poetic novel about finding hope and joy in the most dire circumstances.
Marco Balzano, trans by Jill Foulston
PositiveForeword Reviews... a heartbreaking historical novel about the effects of extraordinary events on ordinary people.
Gaëlle Josse, tr. Natasha Lehrer
RaveForeword ReviewsThe harsh realities of immigration are filtered through a man’s experiences in Gaëlle Josse’s novel, The Last Days of Ellis Island ... Ellis Island is as much a character as any of the people in the book. It is home to John, safe and familiar. But to the immigrants who pass through it on their way to Manhattan, it is a frightening, unpredictable gauntlet. John relays both perspectives with tender details ... The Last Days of Ellis Island is an absorbing novel in which beloved dreams are fast to shatter.
Nikolai Gogol, Trans. by Susanne Fusso
RaveForeword Reviews... no gloomy tales are these: while they deal in subjects including witchcraft, demonic influence, and madness, Gogol’s stories are as humorous as they are bizarre. They often mock those in power, especially those who allow a small amount of power to go to their head ... The book’s endnotes elaborate on cultural specifics and untranslatable jokes. This makes the book perfect for learning about Gogol’s subject cultures and time periods. Filled with unusual stories with hidden meanings, The Nose and Other Stories is filled with ill-fated characters, strange happenings, and satirical commentary.
RaveForeword ReviewsEven the book’s minor characters are crisp and unforgettable ... a glorious novel about what people choose to believe—and, more importantly, why they choose to believe it.
Marie Ndiaye, tr. Jordan Stump
RaveForeword Reviews...uncanny ... Herman’s story is compelling, inevitable, and, much like the village, easy to get lost in. That Time of Year is a hypnotic novel about the spell cast by a village on its inhabitants, willing and otherwise.
Vigdis Hjorth, trans. by Charlotte Barslund
PositiveForeword ReviewsAlthough the writing style—long sentences filled with Ellinor’s innermost musings—never changes, its implications shift with Ellinor’s moods. In the beginning, it has a moody, dissociative quality. Her depression is palpable, even infectious. But as she emerges from her ennui, her rambling sentences become excited and eager, sharing her newfound engagement with the world. She takes pleasure in ordinary things that she once dismissed as worthless and trite ... Ellinor discovers the value of her own—and other people’s—existence not through grand adventures or a single epiphany, but through a hard-won change in perspective. She and her journey are all the more relatable for it ... Watching Ellinor’s numbness melt away, leaving her a better, more whole person, is a joyous and unforgettable experience ... The ordinary becomes vibrant and life affirming in Long Live the Post Horn!, an engrossing novel about how even hopeless battles are worth fighting.
Scholastique Mukasonga, Trans. by Jordan Stump
RaveForeword Reviews... stories of strength, suffering, and endurance ... Most of the speakers are very young, and their innocence underscores the horror of their situations ... These stories are intimate portraits of young people with no choice but to carry on. The heartbreaking realities of their plights are balanced by absorbing glimpses into Tutsi culture and the characters’ unquenchable senses of hope. Their resilience is inspiring, while their need to be resilient is a tragic reminder of the consequences of prejudice and unthinking hatred ... a poignant collection about the effects of trauma on tradition, community, and individuals.
Yishai Sarid, Trans by Yardenne Greenspan
PositiveForeword Reviews... dark, thoughtful ... a novel that pulls no punches in its exploration of the responsibility—and the cost—of holding vigil over the past.
PositiveForeword ReviewsGellately challenges the notion that Hitler’s charisma alone was sufficient to win public support. Rather, he offers ample evidence that Hitler’s success stemmed from his ability to tap into existing resentments, fears, and biases. He draws on a wide range of sources, including diaries, memoirs, and historical documents, to show that ordinary Germans, even non-Nazis, were swayed by the creation of social programs and the easy reclamation of lands lost in World War I. Gellately’s study is a thorough treatment of an intellectually and emotionally difficult subject, as well as a sobering reminder of people’s willingness to forget that their fellow human beings are, in fact, human. Hitler’s True Believers sheds light on one of the twentieth century’s most puzzling yet crucial questions.
RaveForeword ReviewsHeartbreaking levels of bigotry and loss are conveyed through fluid, poignant prose. Amid the tragedy, threads of loyalty, strength, and pride result in a glimmer of hope—not for a happy ending, but for human beings’ capacity to love one another through the worst crises. Devastating and impactful, The Prettiest Star captures the profound effects of the AIDS crisis, and the lies and bigotry that contributed to it